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the dangers daily incurred by her father as the active chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means of the State of Maryland. She saw her three brothers arm in defence of their beloved country, one of them to return home to die from the effects of a severe winter campaign, and another as the laurelled defender of Fort Mifflin-and whose subsequent long, useful, and honored career is instantaneously identified in the historic name of General Samuel Smith, defender of Baltimore in 1812, and statesman. At Carlisle, too, in her father's family, was the accomplished and hapless Major André domesticated, whilst a prisoner on parole, and who engaged her childish affections by his many genial graces, yet she was the patriot even to recognize the necessity of his stern fate. In her, it is said, “love of country was no mere sentiment. It was a principle inculcated in early childhood, and fixed by the study and reflection of riper years. When at the age of eighty she was erroneously informed that her son, Colonel Robert Carter Nicholas, of Louisiana, had changed his politics, she rose from her chair, and raising her hand, with her eyes brilliant as in youth, and her voice tremulous with emotion, said, "Tell my son, as he values the blessing of his old mother, never to forsake the faith of his Fathers!”” With such a mother, such a wife, it is not to be wondered that the distinguishing trait in the character of Mr. Nicholas was an intense devotion to his country. His public services commenced in 1784, as the representative of Albemarle County in the House of Delegates of Virginia. In first offering for their suffrages he made the acquaintance of every freeholder in the county. This was done by domiciliary visits which were never repeated, and he rarely attended the county courts, the ordinary propitiatory hustings of the aspiring politician. During the legislative sessions of 1784 and 1785 Mr. Nicholas, though so youthful and inexperienced, was zealous and prominent in the advocacy of the bill securing religious freedom, and in the suppression of parish vestries, and for the remandment of the property of the Episcopal Church in glebes, to support of the poor in the several counties. Drawn by domestic ties, Mr. Nicholas, at the close of the session of 1785, returned to private life, from which he was recalled by the strenuous opposition made to the adoption by Virginia of the Federal Constitution. After a warm contest, he and his brother George were returned to represent the county of Albemarle Convention of 1788. Mr. Nicholas was conspicuous in his advocacy of the adoption of the Constitution. He served in the House of Delegates in 1789 and 1790, and again from 1794 to the autumn of 1799, when he was elected by the Assembly to the United States Senate, in which body he at once became a leader of the Republican party. In 1801, upon the accession of Mr. Jefferson as President, Mr. Nicholas, who was his warm personal and confidential friend, zealously and ably supported his administration. The questions brought before the Senate at this period were highly important. The new organization of the
courts and of the financial system, the repeal of the bankrupt law, the amendment of the Constitution as to the election of President and VicePresident, the attempt to make war on Spain, together with many other questions, all highly exciting, were not to be decided in a body where parties were so nearly equally divided, without engendering intemperate discussion and bitterness of feeling. Mr. Nicholas, however, passed through the ordeal of this political cauldron most creditably, in the full confidence of those with whom he acted, and winning the esteem and respect of his opponents. All the measures projected by the Republican party having been accomplished, and the dispute about the right of the deposits at New Orleans adjusted without a war with Spain, by the acquisition of Louisiana, Mr. Nicholas deemed that he might, without any dereliction of duty, resign his seat in the Senate, which he did in 1804. It was a step which the state of his private affairs imperatively demanded, as he had become seriously embarrassed. To the reparation of his fortunes he now devoted himself with great assiduity, his success in agriculture bearing witness to the skill and energy with which his operations were conducted. In 1806 he declined a special mission to France, to ratify, under the auspices of Napoleon, the treaty with Spain. But, in 1807, the necessity of a champion " whose talents and standing taken together would have weight enough to give him the lead ” in the National Council, brought on him such urgent appeals to his political convictions and patriotism, that he was forced to yield. He became a candidate for Congress and was elected without opposition. period was momentous and highly critical. The aggressions of England in the attack on the 'Chesapeake,' and the extension of the orders of the King in council, and afterwards the application by France of the Berlin and Milan decrees to our commerce, imposed upon us the necessity of resistance. But pursuant to the pacific policy which had governed our councils during a period of most unparalleled aggression on the part of Great Britain, a period extending as far back as 1793, our government proposed an embargo. The government was at that time in a wholly defenceless state. We had but the skeleton of an army, few or no ships in commission, no military stores, with an immense value of property afloat, and our whole seaboard from north to south open to attack." Under these circumstances, Mr. Nicholas united cordially in the support of the embargo, being willing to try its efficacy for awhile as a coercive measure, but relying on it more as giving us time to prepare for other measures. In 1807 he assured his constituents that in the event of the failure of the embargo to produce some speedy change in the policy of France and Great Britain, the only alternative offered was a base and abject submission or a determined resistance. In his printed circular to them, as well as from his seat in Congress, he urged the necessity of raising men and money, and the immediate provision of every requisite of war. In the autumn of 1808 he wrote to Mr. Jefferson,
urging him, unless there was a certainty of a favorable change in the affairs of the nation, before the meeting of Congress, to announce to the body in his message, that the great object in laying the embargo had been effected. That nothing more was to be expected from it, and that it should be raised, and other measures which the vindication of the national honor demanded, resorted to; that our people would not much longer submit to the burdensome restrictions of the embargo, and that we could not and ought not to think of abandoning the resistance which we so solemnly pledged to make. In 1809 Mr. Nicholas was reelected to Congress, and served in the spring session, during which the agreement of our government with Mr. Erskine produced for a time a delusive calm. In the autumn of the same year, on his way to Washington, he experienced so violent an attack of rheumatism, that he was compelled to resign his seat, and was closely confined to his room for a period of four months. He was now so thoroughly convinced of the impracticability of enforcing any commercial restrictions; of their demoralizing influence on the people, and exhausting effect on the finances of the country, that he frequently avowed his intention never again to vote for any similar measure, except as preparatory to war, and for the briefest duration. In the month of December, 1814, the gloomiest period of the war, and when Virginia especially, but the remaining States as well, were chiefly left to their own resources, Mr. Nicholas was elected Governor of the State, an unthankful office, which yet his patriotism would not allow him to decline. The happy announcement of peace in the spring of the following year, gave but little opportunity for the exhibition of administrative capacity, which emergency, with his attested characteristics, would have enlisted. The defence of the State depending chiefly upon the militia, who could not be kept constantly in the field, an appropriation was made by the Assembly to enable him to erect telegraphic stations, and to raise a corps of videttes to be so distributed at his discretion, as to transmit his orders throughout the State with the utmost dispatch possible. But peace rendered needless the carrying into execution this well digested provision.
The great confidence reposed in Governor Nicholas by the State Legislature, was evinced in their enactment, in great haste, at the close of the spring session of 1815, of a statute for the raising of forces for the defence of the State, the execution of which, in almost every particular, was dependent on such instructions as the discretion of the Governor might deem advisable. Loans, which were necessary to equip and pay this force, were provided by the Governor, under terms the most reasonable, with a just condition not originally specified by the Legislature, but which that body, to its honor, duly authorized at its next session. Peace having been declared, every duly audited claim against the State was promptly paid. The militia were discharged in a
manner the most gratifying to them. They were fully paid for their term of service, provision was made for their return home, and for the care of the sick until they could be safely removed. All military stores ofRa perishable nature were sold. The remaining supplies, including tents and other camp equipages, sufficient for an army of ten thousand men, were deposited in the State Arsenals. The closing of the accounts for the expenses of the war, was pushed with all dispatch consistent with the interest of the State, in their after adjustment at Washington with the National Government. It had been the determination of the Governor, in the event of the continuance of the war, to urge all men of talent and ability with whom he might take the liberty, to offer for election to the ensuing Assembly, that the State might have the benefit of their counsel in her time of need. The return of peace did not prevent this application, but the motive was different. Foreseeing that the State would have command of considerable funds, he deemed it to be important that an early effort should be made to induce the Assembly to apply the proceeds to the great purposes of internal improvement and education. This application, it is believed, was not without effect, as in the two succeeding Assemblies there appeared many gentlemen of conspicuous ability, who had not served in the body for some years before. At the commencement of the autumn session of 1815, Governor Nicholas zealously pressed these subjects upon their attention. They were acted upon, and means severally placed at the disposal of the Board of Public Works, and of the President and Directors of the Literary Fund, to be devoted to the respective objects. The foundation was thus laid of systems which have fostered and infused education, as well as expanded the wealth and fructified the material prosperity of the State. Upon a review of the messages of Governor Nicholas, it will be found that most of the objects recommended by him were acted upon by the Legislature, and that they are all strongly marked by an intimate knowledge of the needs and capacity of Virginia. The first act of the second term of the Governor, was an effort to adjust the claims of the Commonwealth against the United States, all previous attempts having proved abortive. After reflection, he devised a plan, which was finally adopted by the Council, and an additional agent being appointed, a speedy adjustment ensued. As the President of the Board of Public Works and of the Literary Fund, Governor Nicholas displayed the industry and wise foresight which uniformly characterized his administration in every department of the Government. In every contract made by him for the State, the utmost economy was observed, and every caution used to protect and conserve the public interest. A remarkable proof of this was given in the execution of a law providing for a complete survey of the State within justifiable limits. This desirable accomplishment he hesitated to authorize in a general contract, fearing